Snapshot 07.30.15


–It has been about a month and a half since I started giving myself injections, and I’m often asked about my health. The thing about chronic illness is that it’s complicated. I still have really terrible days, and even on my good days there is usually something “wrong” that an otherwise normally person would not consider “healthy.” But overall there has been a dramatic difference in my health. A two-to-three hour daily nap is no longer a daily requirement to function. The variety and kinds of food I can safely eat has dramatically increased. I mostly sleep the night (except to get up with the baby, who at one and a half still isn’t sleeping the night). I can think much, much more clearly, which has added to my quality of life tremendously. Most importantly, I usually have the energy to have a plan for the day. To do regular things like the laundry or dishes and still have energy left over to plan a craft with Isobel or take the kids to the library. I don’t have normal amounts of energy, nor do I even have the kind of energy I had before this all started, but the full effects of this drug can take three months to manifest, so there is still plenty of time for improvement. I’m still very cautious about any plans I make (aside from what I might do when the dishes are done), and I don’t have the energy reserves to add anything to my plate just yet. Every day I can get through the day without falling behind is a miracle to me. Watering my little container garden, straightening the closet, and playing dinosaurs is a gift I relish. Leaving the house is still a big deal. I’ll get there. As much as I’d like my health to be a line that moves steadily upward on the graph of well-being, it’s not: it loops and twists and falls back on itself again. But the overall trend is up. I still have bad days, and I was ill for four days after a trip to the fair. That doesn’t mean the medicine isn’t working. It is, and we’re cautiously optimistic.

–Elias has a limited vocabulary, most of which he doesn’t use as often as we’d like, but recently he learned the word No and he’s getting a whole hell of a lot of mileage out of it. His favorite phrase thus far has been “Uh-oh!” which is adorable and often used to get his way. Now when he doesn’t get it he will sob and shout NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOOOOOOOOOOO! as dramatically as possible. It is heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time.

–Isobel has been growing her hair out because she wants it to be just like mine. I can always tell when she needs a trim because the ends become impossibly tangled and difficult to brush. We are liberal users of detangling-spray but it still hurts. One day while I was brushing her hair she said, “I hate it when you brush my hair, but I still love you for other reasons.” My mom came along while the two of us got a trim so she could watch over the kids while it was my turn. One of the women who worked at the salon tried to convince us that Elias could still take a bath and go swimming if we simply covered his cast arm with a cow insemination glove. It really speaks to the agricultural area in which we live that 1. it is assumed that we all know what cow insemination gloves are and are used for, and 2. that I would be readily able to get my hands on one.

Amanda surprised us with the most adorable package of goodies for the kids on an otherwise tough day. Elias insisted on attempting to blow bubbles and Isobel painted half the Hello Kitty watercolors in an afternoon. What a pick-me-up! Thanks, Amanda! You made us feel very loved.

–You may remember that we’ve been slowly playing our way through all the old Zelda games with Isobel. We started with Wind Waker and Ocarina of Time and recently completed Majora’s Mask (what a slog that became) and are decently into Twilight Princess right now. In the beginning of the game Link receives instruction on how to fight a Sumo battle. Elias, watching along as we played, took the instruction to heart and now does an adorable approximation of the Sumo stomp that begins each round. In fact, if you walk up to him and start doing it he will reciprocate in kind. Isobel has been learning how to play, too, which on the Wii has a different and more difficult control for her than the other Zelda games she played on the Gamecube. She keeps harrassing the chickens and I’m afraid that will end badly.

–Summer vacation is almost over and Isobel will soon be starting first grade. I am not sure I am ready for it, but since she’s been riding her bike like a pro, using the Wii and (what the hell?!) cooked her own breakfast recently, I’d say she’s more than ready.

–I have been working very hard putting a new shop for my photography and other items together at Society6. I haven’t abandoned Etsy by any means, but I’m adding this shop because it runs itself. I earn far less in the way of profit, but it’s something I can sustain even in very poor health because the company runs itself. I’ll have a Grand Opening for the shop soon, but for now, take a peek! The quality looks great and the pricing fair. As soon as I’m well enough I’d like to start contributing to the family financially again, and this is a first step.

Recipe: Summer Standby Tomato Salad. I look forward to making this all year long.

Follow Friday: Duet. Stairway NOT denied.

Snapshot 07.22.15. Hot monkeys. Cement burritos.

My Unruly Garden, Early Summer. Photo love.

Huh. A chicken-shaped church.

I ONLY want to exact revenge on my enemies in this way.

The Amazing Spider-Moose.

Whoever came up with these fake Ice-T quotes needs to be hired onto the LAW & ORDER SVU writing staff immediately.

1986: The Future Is Now.

Booty had me like.

Andre the Giant, with words of wisdom.

Who said it, Donald Trump, or a Sentient Pile of Garbage Named Trashnominicus?  “Pa-rum-pa-pum-Trump. That’s my Christmas song. Little Drummer Boy: You’re fired.”


I have a new favorite answer ever on Final Jeopardy.

Same, Pluto. Same.

I’d like to point out that there’s a moth that drinks the tears of sleeping birds. Via 

Cat doesn’t know what to do when a butterfly lands on his paw.

If you don’t click on this classy post, you are a loser and a moron. A Trump Insult Generator!

My daughter’s owl just finished a sick break dance move.

When u get urself in Turtle Trouble.

Little House on the Prairie Lego needs to happen.

Here are the three 1970 BART logo finalists. My fave is the James Bond shutter circle.

“My wedding was perfect – and I was fat as hell the whole time.” Fucking PREACH. (God, her dress was gorgeous!)

Whoever mockingly accompanied this KKK march with a sousaphone is a legend.

Want to reduce your social anxiety? Thanks !

Snakes Can’t Actually Do This.

Best GIF ever: please wait, post loading.

Japanese department stores REALLY want businessmen to walk into meetings KILLING IT.

Bees Vs Wasps.

Mom, that’s not a picture of Jesus.

Oh my god. I do not know why they were dressed up like that, but I would pay to watch an Alton-Adam buddy movie.

For real. Don’t kiss your chickens.

Scrapbook: Home Life. Ten photos of home.

Holiday Special: Little Big’s Halloweenish Playlist. Music for your ears.

My Unruly Garden: Meet the Hummingbird Babies. Two tiny, adorable hummingbirds hatched right outside our window.

More Creative & Thrifty Ways to Wrap Gifts. My go-to ideas for wrapping gifts.

Thrift Store Gore: In the Workplace. Soak in the majesty.


Snapshot 07.22.15


–The past week started strong but really took a downturn after we went to the fair with our boos, the Waltons. The next day, Sunday, I spiked a fever and was nauseated and just generally couldn’t move. This is quite worrying as catching a cold or a virus can be very serious with the immuno-suppressant drugs I am taking. I’ve been taking it as easy as possible and moving through my days with the kids at a very slow, but deliberate pace. Surprisingly, I’m finding myself actually making progress on my to-do list, however slow that may be. It was such a boost to realize this, and I’m focusing on that instead of on the usual guilt and feelings of defeat of being quasi-couch ridden. I’m taking a page from Stef who knows how to fight every day to get stuff done, and I marvel at her ability and strength even when she’s had little sleep and a hard time breathing. I would never wish a chronic illness on anyone, but having someone there for me who can relate to my challenges has meant more to me than I can ever put to words.

–Currently I am at about 50% functionality, which means I’m not completely down for the count, but I’m not able to leave the house and barely up to wearing pants. We are all done with swimming lessons (Elias’ cast kind of cut into the Mommy & Me class I’d planned), so instead I’ve been trying to plan a Daily Fun Thing for the kids. Mostly this is for Isobel, since Elias finds most everything fun, though nothing is quite so fun as doing whatever sister is doing. He is easy-peasy, which is how he earned the nickname “Mr Wonderful.” So far we’ve done things like made stuff out of Sculpey clay (playdoh for Elias), read letters and written back to a pen pal, looked at things with our microscope, spent time with friends, went swimming with Grandma, visited the Farmer’s Market with my parents, and made a ton more DIY Sparkle Clips. The stuff Elias couldn’t do or was too young for we either did an alternate activity (such as swap playdoh for clay) or waited until his nap time (microscope). It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m going to miss the relaxed creative playtime when school starts again.

–The lady on my package of Cimzia injections may not look like me in the face but she has my hair and wardrobe down pat. BRB I’m going to become and Rx model because I can open my mouth wide to DRINK THE FLAVOR OF LIFE and be like HELL YEAH I LOVE STABBING MYSELF IN THE THIGHS EVERY TWO WEEKS too.

–Elias is doing really well and is adjusting to his life with an arm-prison. He accidentally punched me in the face with it while giving me cuddles the other day and it was like being hit with a burrito made of cement. I’m just glad I didn’t need new glasses. Our friend Dave thinks it’s a shame he didn’t suffer this injury in the fall because the cast could help him be a wicked Baby Hellboy for Halloween. I already have a costume in mind for him, and it isn’t Hellboy, so he better hurry up and get out of this cast. The next most frequent question I get about Elias, after asking about his well-being (thank you, I appreciate it!) is, how on earth do you change his clothes? I have a method. He can only wear t-shirts right now–onesies, rompers, or button-down shirts won’t work. In this way, we are fortunate it happened in summer because none of his long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, coats, or jackets would fit over the cast. So t-shirts it is, and here’s where the method comes in: the sleeve that will go over the cast is put on first, then the head goes in, and lastly, the right arm. The shirt has to have some give to do this, so a cotton jersey works perfectly. I usually stretch the shirt out a bit first in case it tightened up in the wash. To take the shirt off, I have to reverse the process: good arm goes out first, then the head, and lastly, I pull the shirt gently off the cast arm. Presto! The car seat isn’t a problem, either, because we just adjust the straps to the largest setting, scoot it over the cast arm, and then tighten things back to snug once he’s buckled in.

–My friend Bethany, of the fabulous Reware Vintage, sent me a positively jaw-dropping package “to make my day a little more rad.” Which is an extreme crazypants understatement. She sent Anthony and I a bag of goodies containing tea, chocolates, one of her famous notebooks, and a set of handmade earrings. She sent the kids each their own bag of goodness to unwrap, and Isobel nearly reached critical mass trying to get to hers. Elias was napping, so Isobel graciously offered to open his present, too. Isobel’s package contained a dress, a golden bear lapel pin, a notebook (just like Mom’s from way back!), stickers, and healthy treats. Elias’ package contained healthy treats plus a cute Grover plushie, a thick flannel shirt that will fit him perfectly come fall, and (my favorite) squee-worthy miniature converse. I die! Bethany has been a constant supporter and just an all-around wonderful friend. Her shop is currently celebrating its ten year anniversary, which is not only longer than many small business keep shop, is also a damn long time in human years. She sells amazing vintage clothing and accessories and has a large section of her shop dedicated to her Rewaresaccessories and notebooks and other goodies that she makes herself by transforming vintage treasures. You should absolutely check out her shop because her wares are awesome, her Rewares are amazing, and she is fantastic.

–I haven’t gotten very interesting spam comments in a long time, but today I was thrilled to open my dash board and find that some bot left the comment “HOT MONKEY?47??” and it restored my faith in spam bots after all.

My Unruly Garden, Early Summer 2015. So many plants! So much green! So little 100+ degree temps!

Follow Friday: Volunteer Poppies. Sunburst gold and orange gorgeousness plus hilarious tweets.

Snapshot 07.16.15. Shot days & tiaras, True Magic is Real and the language of Unicorns.

Snapshot 07.12.15. Two Castillo grandsons down with broken limbs in as many weeks!

I came in like a Pokeball. I just wanted to catch them all. Via 

My friend and twitter wife Kristin co-hosts a new podcast, Secret Stacks, about comics in and around libraries. Pass it on!

Recently Spotted 103-Year-Old Orca Is Bad News For SeaWorld. Orcas do not belong in captivity. Via Corrin.

Serena Williams and how we understand her in the context of a society that oppresses black women. I love that she is unapologetically herself.

“We don’t subordinate the natural setting to the characters…” -Miyazaki Hayao on nature. I first saw Princess Mononoke at The Metreon. The forest spirit appeared to be twelve feet tall and and it moved me almost to tears.

New Horizons Posters.

Me, exiting a conversation. Especially the tongue.

Just noticed that Geraldo Rivera shows up as a huckster in this Berenstain Bears book. The man is gross.

I love you, mysterious and unsettling procedural moth generator bot.

The Weight of My Son’s Name: why I named my kid Atticus, and what GSAW means.

There’s a fan-made Guinan series? () I love living in the future.

A snail spent years glued to a card in the british museum before they realized it was alive. So damn cute.

Two Brothers Have Been Mailing the Same Birthday Card Back and Forth for Over 40 Years.

Fellow anxiety sufferers, this is a great site for calming. Click, drag, make starscapes. Choose colors. Repeat. Thank you, Tristina.

Morbid Twist Ending To This Album.

I like to pretend tech execs are always talking about how big the sub they ate for lunch was.

If you use Chrome, here’s how to keep your privacy more secure. Thanks, Schmutzie.

Video games have profoundly influenced popular music.

Winners of the 2015 Earth and Sky photo contest reveal the beauty of the night sky.

Thrifty Living: Spring Decor. Backyard flowers and thrifted finds.

Scrapbook: The Kite. We had such a great time with that kite! Can’t thank Stef enough for it.

LBK: Ten Ways To Eat Your Greens. I have to pull out all the stops with Isobel.

Know Your Garden Plants. Isobel is so adept at recognizing local flora that she’s unnerved more than one person when she started chowing down on miner’s lettuce in their backyard.

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